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Human Kindness

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The basic human kindness factor has been slightly overwhelming of late. Tragedy has struck some folks in my near vicinity, and amid the tears and heartache many have felt, the kindness is what has struck me most of all.

We expect politically correct sympathy when someone passes, or loses a job, or loses a battle. We expect someone to cry alongside the victims. We expect friends to provide shoulders, quiet listens and tissues. But what is it that obligates us to kindness? Or prevents us from expressing it at all?


There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear.  ~Frank Tyger


It takes us out of our comfort zone to be nice to others, even more so when they are bereft. Recently, I have been asked to attend a function in memorial of a group of people who were killed tragically last year. The question begs to be asked: Why? These are people I never met. 


An opportunity to meet the mourners to me, seems more like smugness at the privilege of being alive. I feel that it will be rubbing their noses in it - that I survived unscathed, but they did not. They lost people they continue to love and mourn. It is different to a funeral - its almost a year later. Different to a commemoration ceremony, nothing has changed. But maybe, just maybe, thats just me. The question is, am I withholding kindness, by withholding sympathy?

However, I see the need for kindness in every  heart, even those who are not outwardly grieving. It is amazing how showing a small amount of kindness to a person who needs it, but has not admitted to needing it...

Lately, there seems to be too much to do and too little time to do it in. No one close to me has passed away, (thank God,) nothing has happened to hurt anyone I love; I actually seem to be living "the life." Just a busy, high pressure version of "the life." That is why kindness has touched me so. Who has the time to be kind these days? Kindness takes effort, thoughtfulness, pre-meditation and most importantly, selflessness. These aspects seem to have no place in a busy, self-absorbed world.

To those who have lost someone recently - my heartfelt sympathies. Amazing how a plane crash can be one person's cancer death. Loss is loss. The numbers are statistics. And once the tragedy has struck - that is when human kindness truly needs to kick in. Undoubtedly, it will come from sources we least expect in forms we most require.

Kind people have challenged me this day. And the days leading up to this day. Their acts have asked me to silence my selfish self and give the one thing we all need: a kind word, a kind deed.


Don't be yourself - be someone a little nicer.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966



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